St. Paul's Lutheran Church
We begin the season with Ash Wednesday and the imposition of ashes. Although a more recent custom with many LCMS congregations, this ancient act is a powerful reminder of the meaning of Lent and a gesture of repentance and faith. Ashes symbolize the from dust-to-dustness of the mortal sinner (Genesis 3:19) and the posture of contrition (Job 2:8, 12). But there is also hope in the symbolic act. As the sign of the cross is made on the forehead, the believer is directed toward the salvific work of Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of all sins and the resurrection to come.
Some may give up something for Lent; others may take up a habit or practice. Reading of the penitential psalms daily or memorizing a hymn are fine gestures of faithful piety. Often different seasons of the church year seem obligatory. But the ordering of the Church year focuses God’s people on all that He has done for them. Participating in Lent (through worship, fasting, prayer, and reading Scripture) helps us to become ordered into God’s purposes for us. We don’t earn God’s favor by Lenten habits. Rather, we are formed and shaped by Christ who is in us! (Galatians 4:19) Even the “putting away” of the alleluias for a time helps us to be more in tuned with God work of salvation. The singing of them on Easter morn becomes all the more sweeter!
Lenten Series: Jesus’ Journey in John
Over the 40 days of Lent, our midweek services will walk through the Passion according to John’s Gospel, chapters 18 and 19.
March 13 John 18:1-13 The Master of the Moment: Betrayed
March 20 John 18:19-24, 28-38 Inside/Outside: Tried
March 27 John 18:15-18, 25-27 Standing and Warming: Denied
April 3 John 18:38b-19:28 Bearing on Himself: Crucified
April 10 John 19:31-42 Back to the Garden: Buried
Each week, we will meditate on a key aspect of the Passion of the Messiah. The service for our midweek’s will be Evening Prayer. Worship begins at 5:30 and is followed by a fellowship meal. There will be an organist for every service. Please consider making Wednesday worship part of your Lenten walk.
The March Hymn of the Month: God Loved the World So That He Gave LSB 571
This is our first hymn of the month selection and is appropriate for the season of Lent. The Scriptural foundation for the text is John 3:16. The first stanza is a recapitulation of that well-known verse. It also sets the tone for the rest of the hymn—Jesus is the center of all that the Church says and does.
Stanza two asserts the foundation of all faith, who is our “chief cornerstone”. Stanzas three and four, respectively, focuses on God’s mercy and our cheerful response to the forgiveness we have in Christ. Stanza five is the “bottom line” of the Gospel and of the hymn. If you are sick, if death is near, this truth your troubled heart can cheer: Christ Jesus saves your soul from death; that is the firmest ground of faith. Indeed. The hymn concludes the way many do—with Trinitarian doxology praising our God.
The hymn’s author was Johann Olearius, son of a pastor and professor at the University of Wittenberg. It was translated into English in the late 19th century by August Crull, a Lutheran pastor and professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. The tune of the hymn is “St. Crispin”, composed by George Elvey. Elvey wrote several beloved hymn tunes, including Crown Him with Many Crowns and Come Ye Thankful People, Come.
Lent: It’s Meaning, Purpose and Practice
Lent is the season we join Jesus in His Lenten journey toward the cross. It is a season of contrition and preparation, and many Christians through the ages have used this time to reflect and meditate on the profound salvation given them in Jesus Christ.
From an early time in the Church, the season of Lent was a period of instruction, particularly for baptismal candidates. The period of 40 days was associated with Jesus’ own 40 days in the desert undergoing His temptation by the devil. Lent, then, following this early practice has become a time of preparation for every Christian. Of note, the 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays, as each Sunday in the Church year is “a little Easter.” That is why Sundays are referred to as “in Lent” versus “of Lent” during this season.